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Pulse of Policing: How private enterprise is supporting American cops

Companies in the law enforcement realm commit vast amounts of time, energy, and capital toward ensuring that officers are safer


Pulse of Policing 2015: The State of Law Enforcement is an ongoing research venture aimed at examining the current state of policing in America from the individual, organizational, and industrial perspectives. Below is an article in a series of columns which will address how the private industry is tackling the challenges police departments are currently facing. Learn more about Pulse of Policing

The first two sections of our three-part research project, Pulse of Policing 2015: The State of Law Enforcement, examined some of the most pressing difficulties today’s individual cops and the agencies they serve under face. We also explored what can be done to help ameliorate some of those problems.

In the third and final part of this series, we’ve opened up our investigation to include the private sector companies that provide goods and services to police. It may not be immediately obvious to many, but the state of affairs in the press, the public, and the political realm also impacts manufacturers and service providers in the law enforcement universe.

Police respond to a call of a shooting in Brookfield, Wis., were multiple people were wounded when someone opened fire at a spa. (AP Image)
Police respond to a call of a shooting in Brookfield, Wis., were multiple people were wounded when someone opened fire at a spa. (AP Image)

Consider this: when the topic of “police militarization” is debated on one of the 24-hour cable news stations, images of armored vehicles and officers in tactical uniforms are pictured on the screen behind the breathless pundits. When use-of-force is discussed, film footage — “B-roll” in the vernacular of the television news — of cops deploying ECDs or going hands-on with a subject are the background images. As much as cops and departments resent being so misrepresented, employees and executives who build and sell that equipment are similarly impacted.

Focus on the Positive
Most police officers don’t have a lot of direct contact with the human beings behind the software, hardware, and services they use every day in the commission of their jobs. If you’re selected by your agency to attend a big trade show (like SHOT, IACP, or ILEETA) then you might have the opportunity to interact with those dedicated individuals, but for the most part, the private enterprise side of law enforcement is one or two degrees of separation from the average cop.

What is interesting about almost everyone who works to design, build, and sell police equipment is that they are often as passionate about law enforcement as the cops themselves. Many companies actively recruit ex-cops, and those employees who never wore a badge tend to be of like mind. As a consequence, the anti-police sentiment so pervasive today takes a toll on those individuals as well.

Interestingly, even as the anti-cop sentiment in this country has the potential to hurt the bottom line of companies as diverse as Blauer Manufacturing, Lenco, U.S. Armor, TASER International, Lexis Nexis, and even tech-titan IBM, many of those companies are redoubling their efforts on increasing their support for law enforcement. With renewed vigor, companies in the law enforcement realm commit vast amounts of time, energy, and capital toward further refining their products to ensure that officers are safer and more successful on the streets.

Not only do these enterprises continue to innovate on their products and services, they go above and beyond in many cases to support law enforcement in other ways. They focus on the positive. They highlight the good work cops are doing with the equipment these companies provide. For example, uniform manufacturer Horace Small has been making inspiring videos of interviews with police officers and other first responders that show the humanity of the profession of public safety.

Many Means of Support
These companies also rush to support police (and police families) at times of tragedy. When light is shed on them, their efforts are well received. But their benevolence is often kept as quiet as possible — and intentionally so. Donations to downed officer funds are made not for publicity, but because the executives and employees of those companies genuinely care about law enforcement.

They make charitable donations to local FOPs, donate to police fundraisers and memorial funds, and participate in nationwide law enforcement efforts like the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Fund (NLEOMF) and National Night Out.

However, even with all this support already happening, more can still be done. In fact, an argument can be made that more must be done. The narrative in the mainstream is so toxic that a more aggressive treatment must be prescribed, and the “drug” needed will cost money — money that law enforcement agencies generally do not have.

Like the Horace Small campaign, getting the word out to the public that our officers are the heroes they truly are will take time, money, and effort. Like the participation of body armor companies in the IACP/DuPont Survivor’s Club, it requires a permanent commitment and constant vigilance to what’s happening out on the streets. Like the efforts of so many companies, going above and beyond to support law enforcement requires thinking outside the box a little bit.

In our executive roundtable for this section of the project, Steve Tuttle of TASER International summed it up perfectly, “My challenge to other companies is to be creative.”

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